Preventing Heart Attack?

silent heart attack More than one million Americans have heart attacks each year-and 400,000 die. A heart attack is the death of heart muscle, and that damage is irreversible. Prevention of heart attacks is therefore vitally important.

A heart attack (or mycardial infarction, as it is known by medical professionals), occurs when a coronary artery becomes blocked by a blood clot. These clots usually form when cholesterol plaques, built up on the walls of arteries, rupture suddenly. Platelets in the blood stick to the plaque and form a clot. Arteries narrowed by a buildup of plaque are at greater risk of blockage.

Prevention strategies include quitting smoking, maintaining ideal weight, reducing high blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, thinning the blood, and combatting depression. Each one of these strategies may be effected through lifestyle changes, or with the help of pharmaceuticals. A combination of lifestyle changes and drug therapy will usually be the most effective prevention program.

Quitting smoking is paramount since smoking causes plaques to form in the arteries. Counseling and drug therapy are the best methods for quitting.

The FDA has approved five medications:

  1. Bupropion SR-an antidepressant.
  2. Nicotine gum-available over-the-counter (Nicorette(r)).
  3. Nicotine inhaler- (Nicotrol Inhaler(r)).
  4. Nicotine nasal spray- (Nicotrol NS(r)).
  5. Nicotine patch-available by prescription and over-the-counter (Habitrol(r), NicoDerm CQ(r), Nicotrol(r)).

Maintaining ideal weight with diet and exercise will prevent strain on the heart. Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, a minimum of fats, sweets, and processed foods, and moderate alcohol consumption are recommended. Regular exercise speeds up the metabolism and helps the body burn more calories even when at rest. Over-the-counter diet medications are available to assist the weight loss process.

Reducing high blood pressure is important since it causes the heart to work harder. Diet modification (less salt and fat) and drug therapy are recommended methods.

Drug therapy consists of:

  1. Beta blockers, which reduce the heart rate and the heart's output of blood. They include propranolol (Inderal(r)), nadolol (Corgard(r)), atenolol (Tenormin(r)), and metoprolol (Lopressor(r), Toprol(r), Corvitol(r)).
  2. ARBs (Diovan(r)), ACE inhibitors and calcium channel blockers (Lotrel(r)), which allow blood to flow from your heart more easily
  3. Diuretics, which rid the body of excess salt and water (Diovan HCT(r)).

Lowering cholesterol is important so it won't build up in the arteries. Diet and drug therapy are recommended methods.

Drug therapy consists of:

  1. Statins, which lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol. They include atorvastatin (Lipitor(r)),
    fluvastatin (Lescol(r)), lovastatin (Mevacor(r), Altocor(r)), pravastatin (Pravachol(r), Selektine(r), Lipostat(r)), rosuvastatin (Crestor(r)), and simvastatin (Zocor(r), Lipex(r)).
  2. Niacin, which lowers LDL ("bad") cholesterol. Niacin is a mineral found in food, or may be prescribed (Niaspan(r), Niacor(r), Nicolor(r)).
  3. Fibrates, which improve HDL and triglyceride levels. They include gemfibrozil (Lopid(r)), fenofibrate, bezafibrate (Bezalip(r)), and ciprofibrate (Modalim(r)).
  4. Bile acid sequestrants, synthetic resins which bind bile and reduce blood cholesterol. They include cholestyramine (Questran(r)) and colestipol (Colestid(r)).

Thinning the blood makes it less "sticky" and likely to clot. This is achieved with medication, typically a low dosage (75 mg a day) of aspirin.

Reducing stress and depression has recently been found to be important, since studies have shown that they are linked to an increased risk of heart attack. Counseling and drug therapy are recommended methods. Drug therapy may consist of:

  1. SSRI's (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) to control depression. Medications include citalopram (Celexa(r), Cipramil(r), Emocal(r), Sepram(r)), escitalopram oxalate (Lexapro(r), Cipralex(r)), fluoxetine (Prozac(r), Fontex(r), Seromex(r), Seronil(r), Sarafem(r)), fluvoxamine maleate (Luvox(r), Faverin(r)), paroxetine (Paxil(r), Seroxat(r), Aropax(r), Deroxat(r)), and sertraline (Zoloft(r), Lustral(r)).
  2. Non-SSRI's such as amitriptyline HCl (Elavil(r)).

Preventative strategies, when they involve drug therapy, can be very expensive. To reduce costs, don't ignore the lifestyle changes that can be made at no expense, like eating a healthier diet and exercising. Quitting smoking will save money! Prescription drugs can be bought cheaply and conveniently from Canada. Don't be a statistic-prevent heart disease!

Please call your HealthwoRx™ physician at 954.967.6550 to schedule a health evaluation.